Thursday, 5 July 2012

Travel On A Budget | Cape Town, South Africa

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Cape Town: a city brimming with history and culture, with many adventures to be had, natural wonders to be seen and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The perfect beginning to an African adventure and a must see on every traveller's list.

We decided to begin our African Adventure with a 7 day stay in Cape Town, I felt that this amount of time was perfect as it gave us a chance to get a feel for the City and also the surrounding Cape. Taking day excursions out of Cape Town is a must, as if you don't you'll be really missing out on what it has to offer.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City
As you may know Cape Town has a lot of political history, perhaps more recent than most countries and as first time travellers to South Africa we didn’t know what to expect. There is really no need to worry, as it is not only the most popular tourist destination in South Africa but Africa as a whole, I felt and we were often told that Cape Town is constantly developing for the better. 

The trip we took was on a budget, but as we saved well beforehand it was a budget with a bit of leeway which did help when we came across the quirky shops and markets which is something to consider if you are wanting to bring back souvenirs! I felt that nothing was over priced or extortionate like some major cities I have visited and everything was happily within our budget. 


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

We stayed at...

The Backpack’ which was situated in an inner-city suburb called Gardens and was a 5 minute walk from ‘Long Street’ - one of the main streets in the centre of town. Gardens is a quirky area filled with cool cafés, bars, delightful bakeries, art galleries and boutique shops. It seemed mostly populated by the young and trendy, with copious amounts of tattooed boys perusing record shop aisles and attractive models sipping on their lattes in charming cafes, all in all the perfect location to be staying in.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

The Backpack is an outstanding hostel that I would highly recommend. It caters to all types of traveller’s whether you are a couple, travelling as a family, lone travellers and groups. We stayed in a private room with a shared bathroom, which was perfect for our budget and we got the privacy we wanted. It had a really homely feel to it and a relaxed welcoming atmosphere. Their weekly BBQ made for the perfect excuse to mix with other guests as well as the lovely staff. 

The hostel will also pick you up from the airport at a small charge but if you arrive before 9pm there is a free shuttle bus that runs from the airport to the city every 20 minutes from 04:20 till 21:20.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

In hindsight we should have without a doubt hired a car, even just for a day or two. The hostel had parking and it would have been within our budget. We felt slightly restricted relying on tourist attractions and day tours to get us about, as public transport wasn’t very often or reliable. A car would have given us more freedom to explore the Cape at our own pace. We managed walking though and taxis were very cheap.

Regarding safety, hostels do advise not to walk around the city centre after 8pm especially on your own and carrying big bags or luggage. They suggest getting a taxi from place to place if you want to venture out, this didn’t worry us or hinder our trip in anyway. Dotted around the city are Street Stewards, there to help and assist you, which we felt was really helpful.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City
The people of Cape Town are very welcoming, they would start conversations with you as you walked by. Being western with a collection of tattoos I had lots of friendly remarks and people approaching me to tell me how wonderful they were. I felt like I could approach anyone and ask for help and directions, as everyone was very happy to help. On our trip, many people described Cape Town as having little pieces of other cities mixed together to make their City; Long Street reminiscent of New Orleans with the colloquial style buildings. V&A Waterfront similar to San Francisco’s harbour, beaches like California’s and scenery like Australia’s.

The last thing to mention is begging within the city centre because as tourists no matter how hard we try we do stick out like sore thumbs. At first the begging struck me as very emotionally driven and manipulating which was upsetting, people will put on the water works, tell you all sorts of emotional stories, which as a young thoughtful person affected me at first but stay strong and carry on your way, as it's all nonsense.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Things to do

Long Street
Before, I mentioned Long Street being the main street in Cape Town’s city centre. Long Street is a fantastic street for hidden gems and quirky African markets, don’t be afraid to venture in the old colloquial buildings as they're filled with long winding corridors filled with treasures and lots of bargains to be had. Long Street is also filled to the brim with clothes shops, fancy restaurants and uniquely styled bars.


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Bo Kaap
Through our hostel we were able to book tours around the historic district of Bo Kaap. There is a museum you can visit which explains all about the history of the district. We decided to have a wander around as it was only down the road from our hostel. The buildings were all very pretty and colourful and made for a pleasant afternoon walk.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Victoria and Albert Waterfront is the main tourist attraction in Cape Town, it is a working harbour with so much on offer for tourists. It has over 80 restaurants and 200 shops and within the complex and harbour there is so much going on. Tour operators offering guided tours, shark diving experiences and opportunities to try extreme sports. Outside, traditional African musicians and dancers performed for the bustling crowds, there were play areas for young children and a big wheel – lots of fun for all the family.  It was perhaps a little too touristy for our taste, we did enjoy a gander around the gift shops but half a day there was enough for us as we went to Africa for real African culture.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

At the V&A Waterfront you can catch the City Site Seeing bus which is a must do, even a day pass will allow you to get a feel for the city. It also takes you up to Table Mountain, District 6 Museum, and Camps Bay. We bought a day pass so we could work out where everything was then throughout the week made our own way to the sites and attractions.

Robben Island is another must see attraction. You have to catch a boat out to the island; the ferry terminal is located at the V&A Waterfront. I do suggest buying your tickets online before you come to Cape Town as in peak times you can avoid queuing and get them at a discounted rate. The only thing I would say about Robin Island is that if you get sea sick I wouldn’t recommend it, I read reviews before we left offering the same advise and chose to ignore it. I fully regret that decision. It was not fun.

District 6 Museums
District 6 Museum is located in District 6, the part of Cape Town where the apartheid began. It was built in remembrance of the events of apartheid and the culture and history before it. Entry to the museum is included in the Langa Township tour during the week but as we went on the tour on a Sunday we visited a church instead.

Table Mountain was an incomparable experience. We decided to go up at late afternoon as the sun was setting and we felt that was the perfect time to go. We bought our tickets in the UK online which I do suggest doing beforehand just like other attractions. The taxi from our hostel was only £2-3 but as a warning beware that taxis taking you back down will try to charge you £15-20 which is very cheeky. Luckily a City Tour bus driver suggested asking for a lift from other tourists who were leaving in a car, which we did and a very kind couple from Cape Town drove us back to our hostel.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Fortunately for us when we arrived at the cable car there wasn’t much of a queue. It is a very high ride, pretty much vertical but you have fantastic views as you go up the cable, it even spins round as you move so you get a full 360 view of your ride. On leaving the Cable Car the first thing that struck me was how peaceful the mountain was, how unbelievably calm and quiet it was and as you may have guessed by its name, very flat. The views are just wonderful and if you give yourself enough time you can walk to the other side of the mountain and even spot Cape Point.

Langa Township Tour is probably one of the highlights of our trip and a tour I highly recommend. It is something I wish we had done in the first few days of the trip rather than at the end as it really gave us a strong understanding of Cape Towns History and struggles through the Apartheid.
The Backpack organised the tour for us and we got picked up early on Sunday morning. Luckily for us the day we picked was the weekend before Easter Sunday so there was lots of Celebrations going on.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

I am really pleased we went through our hostel for the Langa tour as our Guide gave us a really intimate and personal experience; something you wouldn’t get within a big tour group travelling on a tour bus. He picked us up in his own car and we were introduced to another young person who was to accompany us on the tour. I was slightly unsure at what to expect at first as I had read reviews and warnings about visiting Langa but as soon as we started the tour we were assured everything would be okay. I took my camera and felt nothing but welcomed in the Township, as the people see the tours as beneficial to their community.

Our morning was set out for us, we had a driven tour around District 6 and was explained the in depth history of Cape Town and how the Townships where formed which was very moving and educational. Then we took a walking tour in and around the Township, sampled local beer and visited local families. The children were just thrilling, so curious and wanting to be the centre of attention. They certainly weren’t shy and just ecstatic to see colourful pictures on my legs and arms, grabbing me to have a closer inspection.

It was all very moving, we really got a feel for Cape Towns spirit, the people in the Townships are so positive about their future and so happy to be moving forward. It was very humbling to see how content they seemed to be and how happy they were to meet us.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City
After our tour around the Township we visited a local church and then went to Langas ‘Happy Feet Youth Project’ which was run by our tour guide. It’s a fantastic community project, which teaches children traditional dancing and if the children do well in school they get to perform the dances they learn at local shows. The project has come so far in the past year or two and it is only expanding. It was an amazing experience, which I loved every minute of. One of the tours at the top of my list!

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Camps Bay was a lovely day out and only a 10 minute drive from our hostel in a taxi, which cost us a couple of pounds, or alternatively the City Site seeing bus. Camps Bay is a beautiful beach with hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars along the sea front. It was really nice to escape to the beach for an afternoon and catch some rays.

Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

Cape town is beautiful and somewhere I would definitely like to go back to. We've both said how it wonderful it would be to take our children (when we have them) when they are old enough. It has everything; the beach scene, the history and culture, the harbour, a natural wonder, animal encounters, extreme adventures, safaris, beautiful scenery, wine lands, botanical gardens. But alas! There is still another half of our trip to explore….


Ma Bicyclette: Places To Visit In South Africa | Cape Town - The City

…In the next part of my Cape Town post I will cover the day excursions around the Cape on a budget. Covering Cape Point, Hout Bay, Stellenbosch and Speir, beautiful landscapes, kissing seals, cuddling Cheetahs and a Slow market. Dreamy! Perhaps you are beginning to see that in 7 days you can jam pack a lot of amazing things into your Cape Town adventure.

Sophie
x

7 comments:

  1. These photos are seriously ace Sophie :) I'd love to be there right now! xxx

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  2. Oh wow :) I live in Johannesburg :) it's so wonderful to read you saying such beautiful things about South Africa. Cape Town is really amazing and so beautiful :) Perfect to start your holiday! If you go back you should check out Boulder Beach and llandudno :D

    http://completedisbelief.co.za

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  3. thanks guys :) Im glad you enjoyed it <3 ... Il be writing all about day trips out of the city to places like Boulders Beach in the 2nd part of the blog :D ...coming soon! x

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  4. nice Sophie! and lovely photos :) Kate xxx

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  5. thanks kate :)) xxxx

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  6. A lovely journal - it makes me want to book a flight right now ! Look forward to Part II :)

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